Brave Today

alex

Brave Today

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Ephesians 3:20-21

September 4, 2016

 

On this Labor Day weekend, I am reminded that

work isn’t always “safe.”

Some jobs make it onto reality TV shows because they’re outrageously dangerous –

ice road truckers for examples.

I didn’t know there was such a thing as an ‘ice road trucker,’

but the show on the History channel

tells the stories of these men and women who drive their heavy loads over frozen lakes

to bring supplies to remote areas in Canada and Alaska.[i]

Yes – an accident waiting to happen!

 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,

in 2014 there were nearly 3 million non-fatal work-related injuries,

and almost 5000 people died from injuries on the job.

(And these are only the physical injuries.)

Continue reading

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna

women

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and the Other Benefactors

Luke 8:1-3

August 28, 2016

 

Jen Moore, one of our members starts seminary this fall.

She moved into her seminary dorm room in Philadelphia this week.

Jen posted on Facebook (she gave me permission to share this story!) that it seems that everything at seminary

is named for a donor – including her room.

 

There’s a plaque on her door stating that

she now lives in the “Mr. and Mrs. Blanck” room.

 

To get in the spirit of things Jen decided to name her personal benefactors too…

So she has the “Noah Moore coffee corner” since Noah gave her a coffee maker,

and she has the “Barbara O’Keefe reading chair” with a prayer shawl Barbara made.

The other night she celebrated with a popcorn break brought to her by Lynne.

(No word yet on whether she has a plaque for the popcorn!)

 

Jen’s room is filled with reminders of her benefactors –

those who support her in ministry.

 

From these 3 little verses from Luke, we see that

Jesus’ ministry relied on benefactors too.

 

Luke talks about two groups of people

who were traveling with Jesus as he went through cities and villages in Galilee:

there were the “Twelve”;

and there were “some women …”

 

Three of these women are named:

Mary called Magdalene;

Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward;

and Susanna.

 

Luke says that these three and many more served Jesus

and “provided for them out of their resources.”

 

Did you realize that Jesus was accompanied in his ministry not only by the twelve,

but by a group of women?

Did you know that they not only followed him, but supported Jesus and the rest of his followers

out of their own means?

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Woman Un-Bent

thistle

Pentecost 14C

Luke 13:10-17

August 21, 2016

 

Woman Un-Bent

by Irene Zimmerman

 

That Sabbath day as always

she went to the synagogue

and to the place assigned her

right behind the grill where,

the elders had concurred,

she would block no one’s view,

she could lean her heavy head,

and (though this was not said)

she’d give a good example to

the ones who stood behind her.

 

That day, intent as always

on the Word (for eighteen years

she’d listened thus), she heard

Authority when Jesus spoke.

 

Though long stripped

of forwardness,

she came forward, nonetheless,

when Jesus summoned her.

 

“Woman, you are free

of your infirmity,” he said.

 

The leader of the synagogue

worked himself into a sweat

as he tried to bend the Sabbath

and the woman back in place.

 

But she stood up straight and let

God’s Glory touch her face.

 

———-

 

For years I’ve loved this story in the Bible – unique to Luke’s gospel.

And for years I’ve loved this poem written by Irene Zimmerman.

 

“But she stood up straight and let

God’s Glory touch her face.”

 

That line brings me close to tears.

 

I’m not sure why…

I suspect it’s partly because I’ve known so many people

who’ve spent their lives bent over-

looking at the ground.

 

Sometimes we’re bent over

because we’re afraid.

We’ve been shamed into thinking that for some reason we’re not good enough,

we’re not worthy, not valuable…

and so we don’t dare lift our heads.

 

Sometimes we’re bent over

because we’re compelled to by someone else.

We’ve been ‘kept in our place’ by those with power or privilege…

 

Jesus sees a woman bent over for 18 years

in the back of the synagogue

and he calls her forward.

 

He touches her,

and says, “No more – you are free!”

And she stands up straight.

Continue reading

Dare Greatly

brene

After watching a TED Talk which went viral several years ago, I’ve been following the work of sociologist Brené Brown. In one of Brown’s books, Daring Greatly,  she draws on research and personal experience to point out what one reviewer calls, “the paradox of courage”: we become strong by embracing vulnerability; we dare more greatly when we acknowledge our fear.

Ministry in the twenty-first century requires us to dare greatly!

When I sit at a local coffee shop wearing my collar, working on a sermon or newsletter article, I admit feeling a bit self-conscious at times. (Okay, if truth be told, I feel self-conscious most of the time.) I wonder if I will be accepted or even confronted for my faith. “Dare greatly,” Brown says.

When we as a congregation try new things like walk in the neighborhood with door hangers advertising Vacation Bible School or offer an online Bible study where anyone can join in and comment or have faith conversations at a pub where other people can hear us or pray outdoors on a street in Alexandria, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. “Dare greatly,” Brown says.

We dare more greatly when we acknowledge our fear. Exposing ourselves as Christians in today’s world takes such courage.

It isn’t easy for me either – and I’m a pastor!

Where do I hope you’ll be brave?

  • I hope you’ll bravely join us in September or October on the First Thursday in Del Ray at the Good Shepherd “pay it forward” table.
  • I hope you’ll bravely introduce yourself to someone you don’t know or whose name you can’t remember every week at worship.
  • I hope you’ll bravely share events and activities from Good Shepherd on your Facebook page or through your Twitter account.
  • I hope you’ll bravely sign up for a service project for God’s Work Our Hands Day of Service even if you don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing.
  • I hope you’ll bravely use Facebook Live during worship for a choir anthem or faith story (or even a sermon!) J
  • I hope you’ll bravely serve on a team of Sunday School teachers even if you think you don’t know enough about the Bible.
  • I hope you’ll bravely see a ministry you’re passionate about and help get Good Shepherd involved.
  • I hope you’ll bravely seek help for an addiction or be honest with someone about your parenting struggles or ask a doctor about symptoms of a mental illness.
  • I hope you’ll bravely offer to say a prayer for a colleague who is going through a tough time.

Reaching out, being brave, daring greatly is how we will #feedmoresheep in the 21st century.

Be of good courage!

 

In Christ,

Pastor Jen

It’s Okay

mcd

Pentecost 12C – It’s Okay

Luke 8:40-56

August 14, 2016

 

David Lose[i] says that today’s gospel reading is perfect

for people who don’t have it all together.

And that of course means all of us,

even if we don’t admit it.

 

You’ve probably heard the news stories

about the fact that people who spend a lot of time on Facebook

have more symptoms of depression, low-self esteem, and jealousy than others.[ii]

 

Researchers say that it’s related to social comparison.

Facebook is great for making connections,

but when we compare ourselves and our experiences

to those of our friends,

both men and women, the studies say, tend to think we don’t measure up.

 

It seems that our friends go to more interesting places,

their family pictures look happier,

they have better things to do on a Friday night.

 

After we scroll through our friends’ lives,

we look at our own ,

and it seems we just don’t measure up.

We just don’t have it all together like our friends do.

Continue reading

See. Feel. Act.

john philip

Pentecost 11C

August 7, 2016

Luke 7:11-17

 

And Jesus gave him to his mother.

 

This is a difficult story to hear and to preach

because most of us have lost loved ones,

and Jesus has not given them back to us

like he gave this mother back her son.

 

Annaliese was ten years old and she wanted to be a cheerleader.

Not just any cheerleader – she wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

And so when she was dying with AIDS,

the Make a Wish Foundation arranged for some of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders to visit her hospital room in Springfield, MA where I was working as a resident.

 

The visit never happened though.

Annaliese died just a few days before it was scheduled.

 

Annaliese’s illness and her family’s reaction to it

Was complicated to say the least.

 

Her mother, didn’t want Annaliese to know her diagnosis.

It was in the mid- 90’s and even the word “AIDS” was filled with shame and fear.

 

Annaliese’s mother was afraid that if somehow the word got out,

Annaliese would have difficulties at school –

Maybe children wouldn’t want to sit next to her;

Maybe parents wouldn’t want their children to sit next to her.

 

The thing is, as I sat with her one evening , Annaliese told me that she actually knew she had AIDS.

But sensing how important her mother thought it was that she not know,

Annaliese pretended she didn’t.

 

Mother and daughter,

Living parallel stories of illness, loss, and grief.

Each holding a deep secret.

Each afraid of what would happen if it – if they – became known to the other –

if they were really seen by each other. Continue reading

Ask, Ask, and Ask Again

no justice

Pentecost 10C: Ask, Ask, and Ask Again

Genesis 18:17-32

Luke 11:1-13

July 24, 2016

 

Later this morning as she is confirmed,

one of our young people will be asked several questions.

One of them will be:

“Maggie, do you intend …to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?”

 

If all goes as planned,

Maggie will respond, “I do and I ask God to help and guide me.”

 

I won’t challenge her then,

but I will challenge us all now…

Maggie, really?

Do you really intend to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?

Because it’s hard, hard work.

 

Justice and peace are not the same.

In fact, for justice to come about there is often not peace –

there’s unrest, there’s agitation.

“No justice, no peace!” is the rallying cry of protestors.

 

In the first reading from Genesis,

it seems that even God wearies from the pursuit of justice. Continue reading